YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–President of Armenia Robert Kocharian and Azeri president Heydar Aliyev met on the south-western sector of the Armenian-Azeri border in the territory lying betweent the Armenian village of Yeraskh and the Azeri village of Sadarak.
The talk lasted for more than two hours and was held behind closed doors–the presidential press service reported. Following the meeting both presidents issued a statement.
Kocharian–in particular–said: "We’ve discussed a wide variety of issues. I must say that it isn’t easy to move ahead towards settlement; there are a lot of problems and today’s meeting is a summary of what has been done so far. Unfortunately–we can’t provide details yet. I think you’ll get more details in the near future. It is very important to note that we did not have to go to Geneva or elsewhere to meet with each other. We met on the border–which–as Haydar Aliyev told me–used to be a venue for meetings of the two republics’ leaders."
Aliyev–in particular–said: "I quite agree with what President Kocharian said. We’ve analyzed our problems in detail.The conflict broke out twelve years ago. Many international organizations dealt with this conflict–among them the UN and the OSCE. The OSCE Minsk Group has been in charge of this problem since 1992–and now the Minsk Group cochairs are in charge. There have been varied proposals and schemes–but they could not lead us to an agreement. Together with President Robert Kocharian we’ve given another thorough discussion to the peaceful settlement of the problem. The conflict is an intricate one–no easy agreement is possible. I find our immediate contacts to be very useful. Perhaps–when we were just entering this dialogue one could hardly imagine that we would usefully cooperate to settle the problem. We’ve considered lots of issues–but we need more time–meetings and talks–and–of course–mutual compromises to find a solution. Doubtless–the problem will hardly be solved without mutual compromises. So–we will continue our meetings–and I can’t say anything further today."
Speaking of compromises–Kocharian said: "We mainly discussed the entire spectrum of the problem settlement–namely–the degree of compromises in the negotiating process."
In a message addressed to the Kocharian–Vice-President Al Gore says that he’s been following with great attention the major progress in the Karabakh conflict settlement made due to the direct dialogue of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. "I would like to assure you and President Aliyev of the respect President Clinton and I personally feel for your efforts," the message reads.
"Due to these efforts you expressly stated your readiness to overcome the principal barrier in the way of attaining security–peace and prosperity. I acknowledge that these negotiations imply difficult concessions–which–however–both parties will have to make–but at the same time I find your decision to take this exceptional chance to be very wise and daring," the message continues.
According to Gore–"if you manage to have completed this stage of work by the time the Istanbul summit of the OSCE is to begin–in November–then in Istanbul the entire community of the OSCE will express its full support of the progress made by you and will confirm your viewpoint on peace and stability in the region."
The Armenian president’s press service quoted Gore as expressing confidence that "these steps will open new opportunities for Armenia’s development–cooperation and partnership with the neighboring countries–which you are trying to establish with the entire Northatlantic community."